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Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Context
13:1 Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams 1  should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, 2  13:2 and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, “Let us follow other gods” – gods whom you have not previously known – “and let us serve them.” 13:3 You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, 3  for the Lord your God will be testing you to see if you love him 4  with all your mind and being. 5  13:4 You must follow the Lord your God and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him. 13:5 As for that prophet or dreamer, 6  he must be executed because he encouraged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, redeeming you from that place of slavery, and because he has tried to entice you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to go. In this way you must purge out evil from within. 7 

1 tn Heb “or a dreamer of dreams” (so KJV, ASV, NASB). The difference between a prophet (נָבִיא, navi’) and one who foretells by dreams (חֹלֵם אוֹ, ’o kholem) was not so much one of office – for both received revelation by dreams (cf. Num 12:6) – as it was of function or emphasis. The prophet was more a proclaimer and interpreter of revelation whereas the one who foretold by dreams was a receiver of revelation. In later times the role of the one who foretold by dreams was abused and thus denigrated as compared to that of the prophet (cf. Jer 23:28).

2 tn The expression אוֹת אוֹ מוֹפֵת (’oto mofet) became a formulaic way of speaking of ways of authenticating prophetic messages or other works of God (cf. Deut 28:46; Isa 20:3). The NT equivalent is the Greek term σημεῖον (shmeion), a sign performed (used frequently in the Gospel of John, cf. 2:11, 18; 20:30-31). They could, however, be counterfeited or (as here) permitted to false prophets by the Lord as a means of testing his people.

3 tn Heb “or dreamer of dreams.” See note on this expression in v. 1.

4 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

5 tn Heb “all your heart and soul” (so NRSV, CEV, NLT); or “heart and being” (NCV “your whole being”). See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5.

6 tn Heb “or dreamer of dreams.” See note on this expression in v. 1.

7 tn Heb “your midst” (so NAB, NRSV). The severity of the judgment here (i.e., capital punishment) is because of the severity of the sin, namely, high treason against the Great King. Idolatry is a violation of the first two commandments (Deut 5:6-10) as well as the spirit and intent of the Shema (Deut 6:4-5).



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